Where Is the GOP on the NSA Scandal?
Polls show voters from both parties are distrustful of Obama's expanded surveillance; one state lawmaker is trying to get Washington to listen.
August 27, 2013 - 5:21 pm
Though the resolution won’t likely hit the floor this session, the assemblyman said he’ll keep working with Democrats and Republicans to forge bipartisan agreement on the need to protect privacy rights.
That negotiating promises to be as delicate a balance in the Golden State as in the District of Columbia, where pro-NSA allies also cross party lines — such as intelligence panel chairs Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).
Allen said the reluctance of many GOPs to take up the Fourth Amendment cause stems from the traditional national security position of the Republican Party — though “what we’re seeing now is that the Obama administration has not only continued but expanded” programs started under President George W. Bush. “It really does cross over all party lines,” he said.
The California Republican noted “there is a huge national desire to protect all of our personal freedoms; I think the libertarian movement has drawn support from both sides of the political spectrum and has really captivated much of the youth.”
Indeed, polling has showed Obama taking a particularly noticeable hit in approval among young people as the NSA revelations continue to mushroom. Yet it’s still a hands-off scandal for many Republicans.
“It would seem that these values are naturally aligned with the Republican Party and forward-thinking leaders would do well to embrace the libertarian community and to embrace the things that really make our country great,” Allen said of privacy concerns.
The fact that Sensenbrenner has crossed from crafting the Patriot Act to decrying the NSA programs “tells you a lot about the nature of the debate and it tells you a lot about how good ideas can have unintended consequences.”
“After 9/11 there was a huge awareness of the need for national security,” Allen continued. “I think the Patriot Act’s authors are now coming to the realization while we do value our security we value our freedom more.”
An Orange County small-business owner in his first term, the assemblyman attributed some of the reluctance to stand up to the NSA programs to an “establishment mentality.”
“I think there is an establishment mentality that’s pervasive and it’s on both sides of the political spectrum, and it’s our job as interested citizens and as elected officials to always ask ourselves the larger questions of what’s at stake regardless of what may have been legalized before,” Allen said. “We have to ask ourselves what is the best way to protect our freedom while at the same time protecting ourselves from threats, both from foreign and domestic terrorists.”
And he disagrees with Boehner’s assessment of the onetime Booz Allen Hamilton contractor.
“I don’t think Snowden’s a traitor,” said Allen. “Without Snowden’s revelations we wouldn’t know the extent of this … this series of revelations have the potential to be huge benefits to our society and help us protect what’s important.”
The outrage coming from grass-roots America, regardless of party affiliation, is “a growing awareness in the country that this is not the sort of society I want to live in.”
“The society we live in is uniquely American,” Allen said. “This is why we choose to live in this country and that’s what makes our country great.”
“What if at end of every day every American had to report every phone call they made, every email? There’d be a revolt. That’s what’s happening now and happening for the past decade and it’s about time we stand up to it.”